Browse Definitions:
Definition

Infinite Monkey Theorem

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

The Infinite Monkey Theorem is a proposition that an unlimited number of monkeys, given typewriters and sufficient time, will eventually produce a particular text, such as Hamlet or even the complete works of Shakespeare.

The reasoning behind that supposition is that, given infinite time, random input should produce all possible output.The Infinite Monkey Theorem translates to the idea that any problem can be solved, with the input of sufficient resources and time. That idea has been applied in various contexts, including software development and testing, commodity computing, project management and the SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project to support a greater allocation of resources -- often, more specifically, a greater allocation of low-end resources -- to solve a given problem. The theorem is also used to illustrate basic concepts in probability.

In 2002, researchers at Plymouth University in the United Kingdom tested the theorem with six crested macaques in a cage with a computer. The monkeys hit the machine with a rock and urinated on it; when they typed, it was mainly the letter "s." However, it should be noted that neither the number of monkeys nor the time allowed for the experiment were infinite.

In 2011, American programmer Jesse Anderson created a software-based infinite monkey experiment to test the theorem. Anderson used his own computer, working with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Hadoop. The virtual monkeys were a million small programs generating random nine-character sequences. When any sequence matched a string of Shakespearean text, that string was checked off. The project finished the complete works in 1.5 months. 

The Million Monkey Project was mostly just for fun, and did not really replicate the theorem's scenario. Nevertheless, Anderson's methods could potentially be applied to real-world problems, such as DNA sequencing

In the early 20th century, Émile Borel, a mathematician, and Sir Arthur Eddington, an astronomer, used the Infinite Monkey Theorem to illustrate timescales implied within statistical mechanics. In popular culture, the theorem has appeared in many works, including Russell Maloney's short story, "Inflexible Logic," Douglas Adam's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and an episode of the Simpsons.

The IETF's Network Working Group applied the concept in their Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite (RFC 2795), in one of their famous April 1 documents.

 

This was last updated in October 2013 ???publishDate.suggestedBy???

Continue Reading About Infinite Monkey Theorem

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

  • internal audit (IA)

    An internal audit (IA) is an organizational initiative to monitor and analyze its own business operations in order to determine ...

  • pure risk (absolute risk)

    Pure risk, also called absolute risk, is a category of threat that is beyond human control and has only one possible outcome if ...

SearchCloudProvider

  • cloud ecosystem

    A cloud ecosystem is a complex system of interdependent components that all work together to enable cloud services.

  • cloud services

    Cloud services is an umbrella term that may refer to a variety of resources provided over the internet, or to professional ...

  • uncloud (de-cloud)

    The term uncloud describes the action or process of removing applications and data from a cloud computing platform.

SearchSecurity

  • cyberextortion

    Cyberextortion is a crime involving an attack or threat of an attack coupled with a demand for money or some other response in ...

  • Cybercrime

    Cybercrime is any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network.

  • National Security Agency (NSA)

    The National Security Agency is the official U.S. cryptologic organization of the United States Intelligence Community under the ...

SearchHealthIT

  • Practice Fusion

    Practice Fusion Inc. is a San Francisco-based company that developed a free electronic health record (EHR) system available to ...

  • RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator)

    An RHIA, or registered health information administrator, is a certified professional who oversees the creation and use of patient...

  • 21st Century Cures Act

    The 21st Century Cures Act is a wide-ranging healthcare bill that funds medical research and development, medical device ...

SearchDisasterRecovery

SearchStorage

  • Random Access Memory (RAM)

    Random Access Memory (RAM) is the hardware in a computing device where the operating system (OS), application programs and data ...

  • floating gate transistor (FGT)

    A floating gate transistor (FGT) is a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology capable of holding an electrical ...

  • bad block

    A bad block is an area of storage media that is no longer reliable for storing and retrieving data because it has been physically...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • hybrid hard disk drive (HDD)

    A hybrid hard disk drive is an electromechanical spinning hard disk that contains some amount of NAND Flash memory.

Close